Good riddance Christmas! The past week has been one of the most stressful of my life and it’s all thanks to our country’s obsession with Christmas.

Or am I the only one with a mother who won’t let anything — not common sense and certainly not Covid — stand in the way of a huge family dinner?

In these pages, I described how Christmas was for my family earlier this month. My mother was determined to bring anti-vaxxer family members along to her farmhouse, in order to squeeze us all in.

It was a decision that I and my sister Chloe (32), were opposed to. We’ve made massive sacrifices over the past two years to keep ourselves and our families safe.

Mum once was afraid to catch Covid. Mum was averse to crowds and would insist that everyone wash their hands. It was December 1, and she felt like she had received a personality transfer. Come hell or high water, she was going to ‘do’ Christmas for everyone.

Rebecca Tidy vents her frustration after contracting Covid before Christmas Day. Pictured: Rebecca with mum Sue

Rebecca Tidy, after suffering from Covid shortly before Christmas Day, vents her anger. Pictured are Rebecca and Sue

The drama wasn’t over yet, I didn’t know.

It all looked good at first but then things started to improve as Christmas neared. Mum declared that she had reached a perfect compromise. On Sunday December 19, Mum would be hosting our larger family and host us along with other relatives who have been vaccinated on Christmas Day.

It was a relief, but I felt cautious. Our family has enjoyed the service at our little Methodist church as a major part of Christmas traditions. It was impossible for me to attend this year, as I knew how busy it could get. Mabel’s mother usually takes care of Mabel on Sundays to make sure I am able to work. But, for the same reason, I didn’t want Mabel going.

Mabel (now three) was prematurely born. She’s only recently gained enough weight to be considered healthy.

Mum was quick and calm to assure me. ‘Oh no, I am sure it will all be outside,’ she said. ‘We’ll be fine.’

These are famous last words. The concert took place inside the church, as it was every year. Mum, her antivaxxer cousins, and scores other villages stood shoulder-to-shoulder, with masks removed, while they sang loudly. Mabel was right in the middle.

That night, she came home excited and had a hacking cough. She was struggling to breathe by morning. It was hard for me to get a proper lateral flow test sample, but I’m convinced she had contracted Covid.

Then, my grandma (84 years old) woke up feeling hot, and very shivery. The lateral flow test came back positive. Her fear made her panic. So were we. Despite having had her booster jab, she was still very fragile at her old age. As Mabel struggled for her breath, I felt powerless and rage.

Rebecca claims her mother accused her of 'ruining Christmas' and suggested that she was faking having Covid to avoid being in the same room as an anti-vaxxer. Pictured: Rebecca with daughter Mabel

Rebecca says her mother accuses her of ‘ruining christmas’. Rebecca suggests that she is faking Covid so as to not be in the same room with an anti-vaxxer. Mabel, Rebecca and Rebecca

On December 21, many of our relatives were suffering from Covid. This included one anti-vaxxer, who was seriously ill.

And so — to my intense fury — was I. I had Covid in March 2020 after a work trip to the Channel Islands, where I shared a hotel with Chinese exchange students. For weeks, I felt unbelievably sick.

Even though I had been twice vaccinated, this time I didn’t expect to feel so sick. The signs were obvious and I had to have a lateral flow testing.

Of course, it meant Christmas Day at Mum’s was a no-no. This was the one positive thing after all of the chaos. Mabel, my wife, and I were able to enjoy a quiet, peaceful day at our home.

After ringing Mum, I tried to dial her back. It was clear that I wasn’t expecting sympathy. Mum’s first reaction was to shout. ‘You’ve ruined Christmas,’ she snapped. ‘I’ve cancelled my family for you and now you’ve contracted Covid. It was all worthless. I do so much and no one is ever grateful.’

It was me, Mum said. ‘You should have been more careful when you went shopping at Waitrose,’ she said.

The best part was when she suggested I was pretending to have Covid as I was afraid of being in the room with an anti-vaxxer. It was so mad that I turned off the phone, and called my sister for vent.

Chloe is like me. She has a 1-year-old girl and thinks Mum’s nuts. She was relieved, just like me to get off the hook so she could avoid an unhappy Christmas with her family.

Rebecca said she spent Christmas Day sipping orange juice out of a plastic mug and praying for the moment she could go back to bed. Pictured: Rebecca with Sue and Mabel

Rebecca claimed that she spent Christmas Day drinking orange juice from a plastic cup and praying to go back to sleep. Pictured are Rebecca and Sue with Mabel

We love Mum to bits, but she’s opinionated and so are we.

That evening Mum texted: ‘I hope you and Mabel are still coming on Christmas Day. I have disinvited everyone for you.’ Still seething, I ignored her. And I honestly didn’t intend to go. Then I remembered Mabel. My mum loves Mabel and is excited to meet my sibling and see her baby. And, if I’m honest, I felt too unwell to entertain her.

It was probably mean, but Mum was on the verge of collapse until Christmas Eve. ‘I’ll come if I test negative in the morning,’ I said with all the enthusiasm I could muster.

And that’s how I found myself in Mum’s sitting room on Christmas Day, sweat pouring off me, sipping orange juice out of a plastic mug and praying for the moment I could go back to bed.

Grandma was also negative, and looked sluggish. All three of my sisters, their husbands and their infant had coughing problems.

Despite Mum’s efforts, everyone was too exhausted from a mixture of Covid and the drama of the past few weeks to eat much.

Although we drink large quantities of champagne, no one feels like drinking alcohol. And, while I know Mum was pleased to have me and my sister with her, it definitely wasn’t the Christmas she had hoped for.

The vaccinated family members had been crying on Christmas Eve, alleging they also had positive tests. I suspect they were wary about venturing into Covid Central, as I nicknamed Mum’s house.

Sue suspects that none of her family has been sanitising their hands enough, but revealed she's eager to do something in the New Year. Pictured: Sue with Rebecca

Sue suspects that none of her family has been sanitising their hands enough, but revealed she’s eager to do something in the New Year. Sue and Rebecca

Depressing was the sight of their unopened presents. Mum, on the other hand, is content that the anti-vaxxers do not have hard feelings.

So much so that she’s even talking about bringing out all the leftover food from the freezer for a celebration on New Year’s Day.

Terry, her partner, and she have managed to avoid getting Covid. She argues now that so many of us have had it, where’s the harm?

I, for one, won’t be attending the New Year’s get together.

Mum sue says: I honestly thought I’d found the perfect compromise when I arranged to meet my family at the big carol service at our local chapel. The windows and doors were all flung open — to the point where we were all almost frozen to death.

And the chapel was so full, I couldn’t sit near my anti-vaxxer relatives anyway. At the end I waved at them from across the room.

My mother, along with a number of others, fell ill on the following day. But it’s completely ridiculous to blame the carol service. Covid could have been caught anywhere.

I can honestly say that none of my family members have been washing their hands as often as they should.

And I know full well that Mabel’s nursery has had kids off with chest infections and flu since September. This is my suspicion.

It was lovely to have my daughters and granddaughters with me on Christmas Day but, in the end, it wasn’t the wonderful, exciting time I’d hoped for.

I think we all felt a bit exhausted and down in the dumps, which is why I’m eager to do something in the New Year.

It is my desire to be reunited with everyone.

Interviews by Tessa Cunningham